works at Microsoft. He doesn’t own a dog. Yet every Saturday,
he drives 150 miles round trip to Anacortes to help train service
dogs at Summit Assistance Dogs. Sometimes he walks the dogs in the
community. Other times, he helps socialize the puppies. How much
does he get for his efforts? Nothing. He is a volunteer.
Summit Assistance Dogs currently trains dogs for
people with mobility and hearing disabilities, and therapy dogs
for medically fragile children or for use in schools or other institutions
where a dog can provide therapeutic intervention.
Summit dogs are obtained from its own breeding program,
other breeders, and from people needing to re-home a pet. They also
obtain many dogs from shelters and breed rescue groups, thereby
giving these deserving animals a "new leash on life".
Prospective candidates undergo extensive evaluation before being
accepted into the program to ensure that only healthy dogs with
suitable temperaments are placed. Although Summit will use suitable
dogs of various breeds, the most commonly used are Labrador and
Golden retrievers and crosses between the two breeds.
Service Dogs Service dogs provide assistance to
people with mobility disabilities by performing such tasks as retrieving
items, turning on/ off lights, opening doors, pulling wheelchairs,
etc. Dogs may be custom trained to meet a variety of specific needs.
Hearing dogs provide assistance to people with hearing
disabilities by alerting to sounds such as doorbells, phones, alarms,
etc. Dogs are trained to lead their partners to the source of the
sound and can be custom trained to meet specific needs.
Therapy dogs provide social interaction and therapeutic
intervention in conjunction with a healthcare professional or caregiver
to assist people with any number of disabilities. They are frequently
used in institutional settings such as schools, hospitals or by
social workers/ psychologists to aid in counseling. Therapy dogs
may also be placed with young medically-fragile children who are
not mature enough to fully manage a service dog.
Summit also enriches the lives of at-risk youth
by involving them, through special educational programs, in the
training of our dogs. Dogs attend a local middle school where students
take an active part in teaching both basic and advanced skills.
This innovative program teaches students many life skills, while
engaging them in valuable community service.
To learn more about Summit Assistance Dogs or to
donate to this cause, go to www.summitdogs.org
or call (360) 293-5609.
Chris Blanchard of Seattle, Washington, graduated
in November 2004 with Bennet, a Golden Retriever service dog. Chris
works at Chihuly Glass, Inc. in Seattle and Ben accompanies him
to work each day. Chris uses a wheelchair and Ben helps him retrieve
items, turn on and off lights, open and close doors, and other numerous
tasks. Breeder: Keith & Lola Ingersoll of Angel Eyes Kennel,
Honedale, Idaho. Puppy Raiser: Debbie Craig, Bellingham, Washington
Jenna Clark of Bainbridge Island, Washington, graduated
in November 2004 with Crystal, a Golden Retriever service dog. Jenna
uses a wheelchair and is co-teacher for disability awareness at
the local elementary schools. Crystal accompanies Jenna on her “rounds,”
helping to educate the children. She also helps Jenna with various
tasks such as picking up dropped items and getting the phone in
case of emergency. Breeder: Dr. Peter Brown, Sedro Woolley, Washington.
Puppy Raiser: Christy Durham, Sedro Woolley, Washington.
Story courtesy of Summit Assistance Dogs, www.summit.org